Nepal slashes fees for mountaineering expeditions in off season
Nepal has slashed fees for expeditions attempting to climb popular peaks in the Nepalese Himalayas during the off season and completely waived royalties for lesser peaks, media reports said Thursday, the dpa reported.
The decision affects mountaineering expeditions to major peaks -including the world's highest mountain, Mt Everest - during winter, autumn and monsoon seasons, which are considered off-season for mountain climbing.
"Without changing the royalty for the Spring season, we have cut royalties by 50 per cent for autumn and 75 per cent for monsoon and winter seasons," Tourism Ministry official Prem Kumar Rai was quoted as saying by the Kathmandu Post.
Currently a permit for a 12-member expedition to climb Mt Everest is 70,000 dollars.
Rai said the decision was to give an incentive to climbers to take on the mountains during off seasons and promote tourism.
"We want to portray Nepal as a destination for all seasons," Rai said.
Of the 326 peaks open for climbing in Nepal, fees are charged for 293 of them according to their popularity and height.
The government also announced a waiver of all fees for mountains in mid-western and far western Nepal to promote tourism in those areas.
Nepal is home to eight of the world's highest mountains and has more than 2,000 peaks.
Mountaineering expeditions are considered high-spending as they stay in the country for long periods and pay huge fees for climbing permits.
One estimate by a Nepalese mountaineering organisation said hundreds of people are directly employed by a single expedition as porters, cooks and high-altitude guides.
Spring season, from April to the end of May, is considered the best for mountain climbing and nearly 30 expeditions are attempting Mt Everest this year.